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Emirates suspends flights from Nigeria over $85m withheld funds

By News Desk

The management of Emirates Airlines has announced suspension of its flights from Nigeria beginning on September 1, 2022, following the inability to retrieve over $85 million trapped in the country.
Emirates said that the decision could only be reversed if the Federal Government through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) could meet its request for the release of the trapped funds.

After the United Arab Emirate (UAE) airline, there were indications that other airlines may follow suit as blocked funds belonging to foreign airlines have hit over $600m which they are unable to repatriate following CBN’s inability to meet their request for dollars as stipulated under the bilateral air service agreements (BASAs).

In line with the BASAs, foreign airlines are expected to issue their tickets in naira while the CBN provides the dollar equivalence for repatriation to their home countries.

Recall that the airline had in a leaked letter to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said it would reduce its frequencies in Nigeria from 11 to seven by mid-August over its trapped $85m in Nigeria.
In a statement on Thursday, Emirates said the decision was taken after several appeals to the government to reconsider its decision and release the funds but it all proved abortive.

 

The statement read: “Emirates has tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and we have made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution.

“Regrettably there has been no progress. Therefore, Emirates has taken the difficult decision to suspend all flights to and from Nigeria, effective 1 September 2022, to limit further losses and impact on our operational costs that continue to accumulate in the market.
“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to our customers, however, the circumstances are beyond our control at this stage. We will be working to help impacted customers make alternative travel arrangements wherever possible.
“Should there be any positive developments in the coming days regarding Emirates’ blocked funds in Nigeria, we will of course re-evaluate our decision. We remain keen to serve Nigeria, and our operations provide much-needed connectivity for Nigerian travellers, providing access to trade and tourism opportunities to Dubai, and to our broader network of over 130 destinations.”

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